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NYC School Librarian Guidebook: Infrastructure

Resources to examine our inherent bias, promote personal awareness, and help us build collections for our students that reflect themselves and the world around them.


Elements of Effective School Library Design

  • Adequate and flexible space for simultaneous activities (whole group, small groups, individuals)
  • Library arranged for effective use with designated areas for specific activities (storytelling, research, technology use, etc.)
  • Location of library in school allows equitable access and fosters collaboration between librarian and teacher.
  • School library design adheres to Universal Design principles and ADA standards.


" Flooring treatment should have continuous carpeting where equipment is moved on rolling carts. Use carpeting in the following areas: circulation, display, reading, listening, viewing, group viewing, conference rooms, professional collection, offices, workroom, large group instruction, primary/storytelling. Use vinyl or tile flooring in the following areas: main entrance, audiovisual storage, audiovisual production, television studio, head end, darkroom, media production area."

- Designing a school library, edited by Lillian Carefoot, in The Whole School Library Handbook, edited by Blanche Woolls and David V. Loertscher

Lighting in Libraries

Keep in mind that people can be sensitive to lighting, and you will want to vary the lighting levels for different uses of the space as well as different user preferences. To support universal design, use variable lighting, like dimming, lamps, and multiple switches, that allows you to control the light level of the space.

LED lighting at the Hugh Faringdon School

Artistic lighting at PS189 in Manhattan


"Lighting has long been a key environmental issue in schools. In a 1986 article on the common pitfalls of library building programs, Robert Rohlf states, 'The area in which most mistakes are made in library planning is lighting.' Eric Rockwell, in his article about the 'sins of architects,' notes, 'Lighting in most libraries ranges from marginal to atrocious.' These and similar statements, heard repeatedly at professional conferences and found frequently in the professional literature, attest to the fact that lighting may well be the number-one problem in library design. Lighting systems for new school library facilities are often overlooked by school librarians, and under emphasized by architects. Because we now know that lighting affects people both psychologically and physically, and that the quality of light affects performance and the quality of learning, we must pursue the goal of achieving a high-quality lighting design for the school library."

- by Rolf Erikson and Carolyn Markuson from Designing a School Library Media Center for the Future

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